Astronomical Observing From the Red Zone

AstroToaster Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Backyard EOS or Other Camera control Programs ?

You can and should use whatever camera control programs you already have. AstroToaster only requires that the images are placed in the Monitoring folder you selected with the correct file extension ( see Settings Tab )

AstroToaster will Not change or modify your raw image data. You can reprocess your raw image data later on. You can also open the stacked tif image from your output folder and use your own photo editing software to modify and view it (such as PhotoShop )

Can I process Non-RAW images from my camera viewing program, such as JPG, PNG, TIF ?

Yes you can, for best results with stacking you may want to try treating them as 'data', and making them more raw-like.

So you would set the camera's 'iso or gain' and 'shot duration' as you normally do, but leave other settings near their neutral positions. In your camera software viewer, the image will appear darker, and with fewer smaller stars than you would normally want to live view with.

AstroToaster and DSS will processes these in a similar method as RAW data, In the AstroToaster viewer you can then view the the image, by adjusting the sliders in the colorAdjust to make it brighter.

Program is Hanging doing Nothing

If the program hangs, exit out of it, and restart it, it should pickup up where it left off.

(It is a know issue, when making heavy use of the viewer, it may slow up and eventually freeze )

If you have to kill the process from task manger it will be running under the scripting engine name ‘AutoIt3.exe’

Why is it running so slowly ?

Some common reasons for slow performance

Image size is too large, you can either downsize the image in the camera, or in the Filelist by selecting a downsizing option in the “Picture Sale” drop down.

DSS is detecting too many stars when calibrating and aligning. This is affected by the ‘Star Detection Threshold’ setting. It is best to choose ‘Auto’. Sometimes when processing brightly exposed images, or jpg images it is necessary to reset the Auto search algorithm by manually selecting a high value like ’80 sT’ then immediately reselecting ‘Auto’. ( for more info see Star Detection Threshold in the DSS help )

If using darks, flats, or offset files, you should first calibrate your sets of files into DSS Master files, so that you do not have to recalibrate them each time the images are restacked ( see DSS user manual ).

Avoid DSS options that are known to be processor intense such as 2x 3x drizzle, or 'Post Calibration Cosmetics' ( ( unless of course, if these options are really benefiting your images

I don’t want this program on my computer anymore.

Go to your computer’s control panel and choose ‘add/remove programs’, locate ‘AstroToaster’ and click on it to uninstall.

How do I save DSS settings ?

In DSS, Under Options -> Save ->’Save as DeepSkyStackerLive’ For these options to be used by your current AstroToaster session, in the Settings Tab, use the ‘Refresh Settings from DSS’ button.

Why are the images so gray?

Some DSS options can sometimes result in grayer images,

Stacking Paramaters -> Light

Avoid “RGB Channels Background Calibration”

Do Use “Per Channel Backgroud Calibration”

Stacking Paramaters -> Result

Don’t use “Align RGB Channels in final image”

Can I use my DSLR camera?

AstroToaster uses the DSS engine. DSS can handle over 500 common cameras. To use your dslr, set your camea to output RAW images. AstroToaster in settings select the image type as RAW. DSS will automatically detect the camera type, and read the data correctly. In DSS there are options under Settings->Raw/FITS DDP Settings ->RAW Files to specify additional settings.

For example My camera as Canon 350d XT, which DSS recognizes, but my camera has been Modded (lets in additional light from the IR spectrum, so I had to modify the Color Adjustments to account for the extra red light

(mine is Brightness=1.00, RedScale=0.71, BlueScale 1.00 )

Make sure to save the DSS settings and refresh them in AstroToaster.

Can I use my CCD camera?

Many CCD cameras, produce FITs images which are RAW images.

For example for a Lodestar CX2 (color) CCD,

In DSS Settings->Raw/FITS DDP Settings ->FITS Files

- check ‘Monochrome 16bit’

- select ‘Generic CYMG(01)’ from the drop down.

Make sure to save the DSS settings and refresh them in AstroToaster.

Can I use my Mallincam Universe CCD camera RAW images ?

AstroToaster will process the Universe RAW images, but only full sized 16bit (no binning)

The raw images will be converted to FITs format

In AstroToaster: Filelist->Settings->PictureType->MCURAW

If you want to create DSS MasterFlat and MasterDark images

You would use your dark and flat FITs files and process them in DSS with the following settings:

Settings->Raw/FITS DDP Settings ->FITS Files

- check 'Monochrome 16bit'

- select 'Generic GRBG' from the drop down.

- Brightness=1 RedScale=1 BlueScale=1

- Bilinear Interpolation

Can I use PhotoShop to view or edit the images?

The stacked images are in the output folder chosen in the settings. The stacked images have a name format of Stacked00?.tif. Your can open the folder in windows, you can view or modify the images with the editor of your choice. You should save the image with a different name.

Keep in mind that if you are editing the the image currently being stacked, will be continuously updated by AstroToaster, and that you will need to manually refresh it in your editor in order to see the latest version.